By Emily Myer
Special to Stlouisrams.com
The St. Louis Rams are proud to present the 2013 Georgia Frontiere Community Quarterback Award to four outstanding volunteers in the St. Louis bi-state area. The award, sponsored by the St. Louis Rams and GFI Digital, Inc., honors individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication, and commitment to improving the communities in which they live through volunteerism. The winners were awarded a $5,000 grant for their individual organizations. Ms. Angie Wuebbels is one of these winners for her efforts on behalf of Unlimited Play – Hannah’s Playgroun.
Unlimited Play is an organization based on the belief that all children should have the opportunity to play and interact with others outside regardless of any disabilities. Unlimited Play builds inclusive playgrounds which go above and beyond ADA standards. Their playgrounds feature soft-tile surfacing, ramping systems from the bottom to the top of every element, adaptive swings, safe slides for children with cochlear implants, and many other sensory elements.
Angie’s community of Clinton County, specifically Breese, IL, does not have an inclusive playground. This therefore means that children with disabilities have limited access to the vital activity of outdoor play. One such child was Hannah Berndsen who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair. Her wheelchair was almost impossible to push around playground surfaces, preventing Hannah and her family from enjoying outdoor play in the park. Hannah then had to watch her older sister, Morgan, play from a distance, unable to participate. Morgan often tried to include Hannah, but it was a major challenge for her and her family. Because of the lack of inclusive playground in Breese/Clinton County, Hannah was unfortunately a spectator when it came to play.
When Hannah passed away in 2012, instead of wishing that she could “Rest in Peace,” her family chose to say that she will now “Run and Play.” Although Hannah and her family did not have many opportunities to enjoy outdoor play with Hannah, Angie Wuebbel is on track to ensure that no other child or family with disabilities will have to miss out. She is currently working to build an inclusive playground in Breese named for Hannah.
Angie has been dedicated to Hannah’s Playground since the beginning of its effort in 2009 when the planning started as a project in graduate school at Saint Louis University. Angie became dedicated to the playground and enlisted the support of the City of Breese, community members, and Unlimited Play. With her leadership, she has helped raise over $150,000 in 15 months.
Angie’s nominator, Hannah’s father, Michael C. Berndsen praises her strength through the entire process and in the face of all challenges. Though his family faced challenges with Hannah, Michael is greatly supportive and appreciative of Angie’s work with Hannah’s Playground, as it will make sure that other families who are impacted by disabilities are not sitting on the sidelines. Her dedication to seeing the playground become a reality, he says, is uniting the community and inspiring them to keep moving forward. It is for these very reasons that the St. Louis Rams are excited to honor Angie and contribute to her efforts in seeing Hannah’s Playground become a reality.
Angie and her fellow winners were all invited to Rams Park for an award luncheon on November 22 to honor their efforts in the community. The winners will also be honored at the Edward Jones Dome prior to the Rams game on Sunday, December 22 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Georgia Frontiere Community Quarterback Awards, presented by GFI Digital, initially began in 2000 as the Community Quarterback Awards, but was renamed in 2008 to honor the late Rams’ owner and chairman, Georgia Frontiere. In the years that have passed, the Rams have donated over $250,000 to community organizations and charities as a result of the program.